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Former CHOICES Program Giving Thousands To Health Care

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Created in 2004 to provide uninsured residents money to various health care providers, Alachua County’s Community Health Offering Innovative Care and Educational Services program (CHOICES) is no longer an existing entity.

But there’s still money left in the tank.

In 2013, CHOICES came to an end after nearly 10 years, leaving thousands of uninsured residents potentially without help.

The program’s former participants are currently deciding where to allocate the remaining $465,000. By October, their recommendations will be presented to county commissioners which health care providers should receive funding.

Commissioners will then decide whether to move forward with the proposed plan or modify it, said Candie Nixon, assistant director of administration for Alachua County and former CHOICES director.

Many health care providers will beg for the additional funding offered by the program, she said. But, with so little money to go around, only a select few will actually receive anything.

The Florida Department of Health, the Alachua County Organization of Rural Needs (ACORN Clinic) and Helping Hands Clinic are some of the health care providers that could potentially receive funding.

Commissioners usually look for particular programs to give money to, Nixon said.

“Those programs that are aimed at really supporting the community. That show an impact and some kind of return,” she  said. “That’s usually what they look for.”

Joseph Little, a University of Florida law professor who was part of the grant review committee, said the providers they select for funding is key. A provider that missuses the money could be a huge potential issue.

“I’m not giving any money to anyone we didn’t give money to last year,” Little added.

But according to Jodi Mansfield, a volunteer on the grant review committee, the goal remains the same — to help those in need.

“It’s important work,” Mansfield said.

About Raymond Boone

Raymond is a reporter for WUFT News and can be reached at news@wuft.org or 352-392-6397.

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